San Jose Water manages almost 6,000 acres of watershed in the Santa Cruz Mountains including five reservoirs, seven water supply intakes, and over 100 roadside culverts. Maintaining our facilities while prioritizing the environment requires a delicate balance, but as a dedicated environmental steward, SJW makes managing these natural resources a top priority.
Taking responsibility for the maintenance and management of these natural resources required that SJW obtain an Army Corps of Engineers Regional General Permit and a Lake and Streambed Alteration Agreement from the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. To obtain these permits, SJW had to develop an inventory of all the maintenance activities needed in the watershed and the required steps to minimize the environmental impact of these activities. Under the permit, SJW files annual work plans for all upcoming maintenance activities and reports on these activities after the work is completed.
As compensation for the impact of our maintenance activities in the watershed, SJW completed a wetlands project at Lake Kittredge in the Los Gatos Creek Watershed in 2019. The creation of these wetlands provides new habitat for the California Red Legged Frog, an endangered species. Lake Kittredge, the wetlands, and the surrounding area also offer potential habitat for the western pond turtle and nesting olive-sided flycatchers, both California species of special concern. The wetland project included the creation of seasonally flooded depressions and the planting of wetland vegetation, including bulrush, willows, native grasses, shrubs, and trees.
Since the early 1900s, the Los Gatos Creek Watershed has been a reliable source of water for our customers. With the establishment of the Lake Kittredge wetlands project, SJW is ensuring that this pristine watershed can sustain a healthy habitat for years to come. By maintaining a healthy watershed SJW can continue to provide clean water to our customers, protect creek banks from erosion, slow and store stormwater runoff, and protect wildlife habitat. SJW’s holistic approach to managing its natural resources is a reflection of its commitment to environmental stewardship.
This project was made possible with the cooperation of our neighbors and the guidance of the Army Corps of Engineers, the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
See below for additional photos of the restoration project.